Reintegration adviser in Geneva
Mimmi Milligan is seconded from the FBA to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). She is placed at the UNDP office in Geneva where she works as an adviser on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.
UNDP is tasked with strengthening democratic governance and sustainable development, eradication of poverty and crisis prevention all over the globe. Peacebuilding is a cornerstone of the UNDP’s work. An important part of the peacebuilding agenda is DDR, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. Mimmi Milligan is an expert on supporting ex-soldiers to transition into civilian life.
Mimmi, how would you describe your regular work-week?
– I focus mainly on coordinating work aimed at developing new UN guidance for DDR. The work is carried out by the so called Inter-Agency Working Group for DDR (IAWG), which consists of representatives from about 20 different UN organizations. The group is responsible for keeping the guidance and policies on DDR up-to-date, which is an ongoing task since the conflict situation in the world is always changing. DDR used to be carried out primarily in post-conflict situations, with a peace agreement in place. Now DDR programmes are also carried out during ongoing conflicts. In addition, conflicts of today are often driven by violent extremism, which affects the way DDR programmes have to be designed. Working with terrorist affiliated groups entails both juridical and political difficulties. I try to support the IAWG in drafting this new guidance by arranging seminars, writing reports and of course by coordinating the work. I also coordinate work related to DDR within the UNDP.
What did you do prior to your current position?
– I have a degree in peace and conflict studies from Uppsala University. I have been working with both the Swedish intelligence agency, Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. In addition to that I was seconded to the EU in Liberia during the country’s transitional period in 2004–2005, mainly working on DDR issues. The common thread in what I have been doing has always been Africa and conflicts.
Do you feel that you can make a difference through your work, and if so, how?
– It takes patience to work with policy issues within the UN, especially as a member of a very big working group! Progress can be slow and small issues can grow unproportionally. But there is a great need for updated guidance on reintegration in today’s world, and everyone in the working group is so dedicated to finding solutions to the challenges we see, and to finding ways to reintegrate ex-combatants into society in the long run. So even though the path may seem long I stay hopeful. Being a big working group is also an advantage, not the least because you have access to all types of expertise within the group.
Photo: Private, UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré